the-place-beyond-the-pinesOne of my annual traditions, this is my rundown of the best and worst things that I’ve seen during the first six months of 2013. As it stands, I’ve seen more than 130 films, and honestly, mostly I’ve come away pretty disappointed with the first half offerings. Usually I’ve got at least a few things I’m really big on from this part of the year, but that hasn’t been the case this time around. In fact, I’ve had to take an imaginative interpretation of my own rules in order to make things more palatable for everyone involved. Instead of strictly limiting eligible titles to those that had a theatrical release before July (last year I oddly excluded VOD debuts), I’ve chosen to include anything that I saw during the time between January 1st and July 1st. That way, I’ve opened things up to the movies that I bore witness to at Sundance and Tribeca, which definitely makes for a more compelling list. That being said, after the top four, things go more than a level down. I can share with you the much more boring picks I’d have made with the old rules, but below you can see my rundown of the highs and lows of the year so far, along with my personal awards as well.



  1. Overall the year so far gets a B- (which might even be a bit generous, especially so if we take away my pseudo cheating), so hopefully the second half of 2013 is an improvement…

  2. I’m thrilled to find someone who shares my love of “The Place Beyond the Pines”. Often with movies that run 140 minutes, I feel they struggled to fill that time, but I loved every second of “Pines”. Looking forward to “The Spectacular Now” later this summer. Also enjoyed “Mud” quite a bit.

    Also, I was a big fan of the underseen “The Sapphires” – breaks no new ground but very charming and entertaining. Saw “What Maisie Knew” at TIFF last Septemeber and thought it was beautifully done.

    • It’s definitely an added challenge to keep one’s interest when you move too far past the two hour mark, but The Place Beyond the Pines certainly is up to the task.

      The Sapphires is one of my few blind spots this year. I liked What Maisie Knew, but wasn’t over the moon about it…

  3. Great piece Joey! As a huge fan of “(500)Days,” I’m anxiously awaiting “The Spectacular Now” and “Don Jon”

  4. Thanks for the writeup, Joey. I enjoyed it. I was curious to see your Oscar predictions for this year – are they posted anywhere? All I could find were Clayton’s.

  5. Here are my awards

    Best Picture
    Winner: This is The End
    Runner Up: The Place Beyond The Pines

    Best Director
    Winner: Derek Cianfrance – The Place Beyond The Pines
    Runner Up: Jeff Nichols – Mud

    Best Actor
    Winner: Leonardo Dicaprio – The Great Gatsby
    Runner up: Bradley Cooper – The Place Beyond The Pines

    Best Actress
    Winner: Rooney Mara – Side Effects
    Runner up: Olga Kurylenko – To The Wonder

    Best Supporting Actor
    Winner: Emory Cohen – The Place Beyond The Pines
    Runner Up: Zach Braff – Oz: The Great And Powerful

    Best Supporting Actress
    Winner: Eva Mendes – The Place Beyond The Pines
    Runner up: Reese Witherspoon – Mud

    Best Original Screenplay
    Winner: The Place Beyond The Pines
    Runner Up: Mud

    Best Adapted Screenplay
    Winner: This Is The End
    Runner Up: The Great Gatsby

    Best Animated Feature
    Winner: Monsters University
    Runner Up: The Croods

    Worst Picture
    Winner: Antiviral
    Runner Up: A Good Day To Die Hard

  6. Very surprisingly, Spring Breakers is my favorite film of the year so far, as it was the complete opposite of what I expected. Kind of like with Killing Them Softly last year, I think there is a heck of a lot more going on in that movie than some detractors give credit for.

    I’m definitely looking forward to most of the movies on your list, I just don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see them. Mark Johnson’s Cleveland seems way ahead of the times from where I live.

  7. I cannot wait for The Spectacular Now, it really does look fantastic. I think To the Wonder is by far the best movie of the year so far, but I also loved The Bling Ring, Pain and Gain, and Spring Breakers as well. So far, there hasn’t been a critical darling that I’ve completely agreed warranted the praise (Before Midnight, Stories we Tell didn’t live up to the filmmakers’ potential imo).

  8. I always find myself at a disadvantage during the first half of the year because I don’t have “access” to all of the great indie films that usually end up being my favorites by the end of the year. As of now, my favorite film of the year is 42, which, despite its financial and critical success, I still find to be largely underrated. Very impressed with the direction and the two lead performances. Its a familiar story, but an emotionally daring one.
    I also thought that G.I. Joe: Retaliation was downright the most horrendous movie I have seen in a long time. Granted, I haven’t seen Movie 43, but Retaliation was simply ridiculous.

  9. By the by, here’s what my list/awards would have looked like with a strict first half ruling, so you can see the difference…

    1. The Place Beyond the Pines

    2. Before Midnight

    3. Frances Ha

    4. Mud

    5. Stories We Tell

    6. The Kings of Summer

    7. This is the End

    8. Man of Steel

    9. Spring Breakers

    10. Side Effects

    Best Picture: The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Director: Derek Cianfrance- The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Actor: Ethan Hawke- Before Midnight

    Best Actress: Julie Delpy- Before Midnight

    Best Supporting Actor: Bradley Cooper- The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Supporting Actress: Eva Mendes- The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Adapted Screenplay: Before Midnight

    Best Original Screenplay: The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Documentary Feature: Stories We Tell

    Best Foreign Language Feature: Starbuck

    Best Animated Feature: Monsters University

    Best Cinematography: The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Film Editing: The Place Beyond the Pines

    Best Original Score: The Place Beyond the Pines

    • It’s the type of film that hits some real hard and leaves others cold, but I still expect it to show up here and there during the precursors…


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